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Students Show "Do Good" Spirit at Challenge Finals

April 17, 2013
Contacts: 

Jennifer Talhelm 301-405-4390

Do Good ChallengeCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Five finalist teams of University of Maryland students showed off their philanthropic and innovative thinking last week during the annual Do Good Challenge. Students participating in the challenge – modeled after "American Idol" – organized volunteers and raised money and awareness for charitable causes, with the winners receiving $5,000 to support their cause.

During Wednesday's showdown, the finalist teams had five minutes to pitch their causes to a panel of celebrity judges, including acclaimed television star Fran Drescher and nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis. Melanie Schnoll Begun, managing director and head of philanthropy management at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, also joined them on the judging panel.

Chosen for their impact, leverage and creativity, this year's winners were:

  • First place: Argentine Terps, which, sparked by the Do Good Challenge, organized the first fundraising and awareness campaign for Fundacion Microjusticia Argentina, a group co-founded by a UMD student and composed of dedicated young lawyers who provide legal aid to residents in the slums of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Second place: R.I.S.E. (Rise. Rally. Smile. Entertain), a new student group launched for the Do Good Challenge that connects various homeless shelters and rehabilitation centers with student entertainment groups to improve conditions and raise awareness about the issue of homelessness.
  • Third place: Operation CHAMPS, a group founded by a UMD student who co-authored a book for children in military families (Little Champs) and leveraged the Do Good Challenge to launch Operation Champs and create corporate, community, and campus partnerships that provide a number of free services for military families.

The first place winner, Argentine Terps, was founded by Juan Bellocq, a master's student at the UMD School of Public Policy. Bellocq developed the Argentine Terps campaign, called Making the Invisible Visible, to help expand Microjusticia Argentina. He and fellow Argentinian Fernando Saltiel, who graduated from UMD's public policy master's program in 2012, built a website and raised awareness and more than $8,758 through social media, word of mouth, and by leveraging support from the Argentinian community in Washington, D.C., and from individuals in Argentina. He hopes to use the $5,000 award to continue to expand Microjusticia Argentina.

Bellocq said the group was dedicated to giving a voice to residents of Buenos Aires's slums. "It's about getting rid of that prejudice that if you are in the slum you are a drug dealer or a criminal," he said.  The reward is "seeing that you need them and they need you – and that you are members of the same society."
 
The Do Good Challenge competition was launched last year by the UMD School of Public Policy's Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership.  During the competition period, between Feb. 4 and March 24, student participants mobilized thousands of volunteers and donations for causes across campus, around the community and even across the globe. 
 
The competition is part of an innovative new approach to encouraging social innovation and entrepreneurship and fostering a culture of philanthropy on campus.
 
"This competition and the growing philanthropic curriculum behind it, are at the very heart of an important lesson we are committed to teaching our students: Use your skills, talent, passion and education to give back to others," UMD Presdient Wallace Loh said. "My goal is to have every student have an innovation or social entrepreneurship experience before graduating from the university. I am deeply proud of the fine, caring work of all the students who took part in this marvelous competition."
 
Additional information about the Challenge is available at http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/dogood.